State Fire Marshal: Ring in the New Year with Safety in Mind

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Friday, December 29, 2017 08:30am

NASHVILLE – Whether your New Year's plans involve a low-key night at home or a big night out on the town, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office (SFMO) encourages Tennesseans to add fire safety to the celebration agenda.

"No matter where you choose to celebrate the new year, be sure to do it safely," said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. "Leave fireworks to the professionals and have emergency escape plans in place for not only your home, but for public venues as well."

Celebrating a new year with consumer fireworks has been a long standing tradition in the United States. However, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are seriously injured each year through their use. The State Fire Marshal’s Office strongly advises that individuals attend organized public fireworks displays where compliance with state-of- the-art fire codes offers a safer way to ring in a new year.

If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

  • Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks – this includes sparklers, which reach temperatures of 1200 degrees.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
  • Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
  • Have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Practice the plan with all members of your household both at night and during the day. 

If attending a party at a public venue is part of your New Year's Eve plans, the State Fire Marshal's Office urges you to keep the following in mind:

Before you enter

  • Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit?
  • Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
  • Plan a meeting place. Designate an outside spot to meet your fellow party-goers should an emergency happen. 

When you enter

  • Locate exits immediately. When you enter a building, look for all available exits. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit.
  • Check for clear exit paths. Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed. Call the local fire marshal to register a complaint.
  • Evaluate the safety of the structure. Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles, cigarettes, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification on your concerns. If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.

During an emergency

  • React immediately. If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.
  • Get out, stay out! Once you have escaped, stay out. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.

For more fire safety information or to download a free copy of the 2018 Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office calendar, visit tn.gov/fire.

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